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Literature / Witch Child

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Witch Child and its sequel The Sorceress are two novels by Celia Rees, published in 2000 and 2002 respectively. They follow the story of Mary Newbury, a young English girl living soon after the English Civil War who was raised by her grandmother until her grandmather was accused of witchcraft and executed. A mysterious woman arranges for Mary to leave England with a group of Puritans and go to the New World- Massachussetts to be exact. On her way, Mary befriends some Puritans (and a Native American boy called Jaybird) but gains enemies as well, and so has to eventually leave the little town of Beulah on the frontier and join the Indians. The sequel describes her life with the tribe of Jaybird as she has a family and learns to actively use the powers she has been aware of since her voyage across the Atlantic.


This book provides examples of:

  • Alpha Bitch: Deborah Vane, her sister Hannah and their friend Elisabeth.
  • Bittersweet Ending / Happy Ending: Agnes Herne's and Allison's story arc is ended on a positive note, not to mention Mary and her two sons are accepted into their new tribe and live to see a ripe old age after escaping from Montreal, but Jaybird and his and Mary's daughter are dead, and Mary or the reader has no idea what happened to their old tribe.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The witchhunter who condemns Mary's grandmother at the start of Witch Child is the one Mary has to flee Beulah from at the end of the same book.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Mary's mother is the wife of a high-ranking politician whose life is/was in danger because he was one of the people to sign the death penalty of King Charles I. This puts Mary's mother in danger as well but she won't leave him to escape to Massachussetts with Mary because of Undying Loyalty.
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  • Laser-Guided Karma: Notes at the end of the sequel report Beulah was eventually abandoned soon after Mary's escape, and all her tormentors had miserable lives, while the friends she had among the settlers prospered.
  • Not So Different: Mary notes how the life she leads among the (according to her countrymen, "uncivilised") Indians is not much harder than what she would have among the supposedly "advanced" white settlers: women in both societies were expected to pull their weight and had a lot of work. Not to mention Mary says her grandmother held beliefs not too dissimilar to that of the Indians.
  • Parental Abandonment: Mary was raised by her grandmother, and never knew her mother until said mother shipped her off to the New World.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: If Mary's grandmother hadn't been tried and executed as a witch, she needen't have gone to Massachussetts.
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  • Witch Hunt: What Mary's grandmother fell victim to and what drove Mary away from Beulah. Fortunately, Mary escapes.

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